I almost didn’t do this lesson because I thought it would be too old for the third and fourth grade. I didn’t want to address adultery with them — you never know how they will respond to topics like that. After a trial run with my son, I realized there was an awesome element of forgiveness that could be communicated. Plus, I didn’t have to address adultery; I just left it at her breaking one of the ten commandments.
According to the Barnes’ Commentary on John 8:5, the law the Pharisees were referring to was in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22. What I didn’t realize is that neither of them require stoning. The penalty is simply death. Another aspect that is interesting is that both the man and the woman should be put to death. Ezekiel 16:38-40 gives an example of how they might do it.
The Pharisees bring the woman and require immediate death. In fact, they say that she was caught in the act. Now, if she was caught in the act, why didn’t they catch the man? He should face the same punishment.
The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I imagine that maybe the Pharisees had set a trap for her. They wanted to catch Jesus and trap him, and they needed a subject. The timing needed to be right. My guess is that they trapped her, and maybe the man was one of them.
Obviously, if Jesus didn’t obey that law to stone her, He would have problems. The Pharisees could go to the people and destroy Jesus’ testimony. On the other hand, if Jesus did agree to stoning her, he would have problems with the Romans. Because the Romans ruled over them, the Jews were not allowed to take the law into their own hands. The Pharisees would be able to turn Jesus in to the Romans for murder.
I don’t know if the Pharisees understood it, but they had a third angle. Jesus was a lover of the human soul. He created human life, and he didn’t want to destroy it. Jesus spent his time eating with and visiting sinners. He came that all might repent.
Jesus not only evaded the trap, he taught an important lesson at the same time. The way He handled the situation fit perfectly. He taught the Pharisees a proper view of sin. They needed to learn that they are no better than everyone else; everyone is a sinner. He also taught the woman a proper view of sin. Jesus has the authority to forgive our sin and wash it away. In addition, the proper response to that forgiveness is to “go and sin no more”.
Some of my previous lessons have covered some of the miracles that Jesus did during his ministry. At first, I thought this story had no miracle in it — just teaching. But really, the most important miracle Jesus does is forgiving our sins.
It is important to note that Jesus isn’t just excusing the sin of either the Pharisees or the woman. He would very shortly pay the penalty of death that the law required.
Scribbling in the Sand
You can’t cover this topic without mentioning Michael Card’s song “Scribbling in the Sand”.
Update: The link for the guitar chords must have been taken down. If anyone knows of where I can link to the chords, please comment below.